Diarmaid Ferriter

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Diarmaid Ferriter (born 1973[1]) is an Irish historian, broadcaster and university professor.[2] He has written eleven books on the subject of Irish history. Ferriter attended St. Benildus College in Kilmacud in Dublin and University College Dublin.


Ferriter is Ireland's best known historian and is Professor of Modern Irish History at [[University College Dublin], a position he was appointed to at the age of 34. He was formerly a senior lecturer in history at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin City University. He was the host of What If, the popular Sunday morning radio programme that broadcast weekly on RTÉ 1 from 2003-2009 and also presented RTE's History Show from 2011-13.[3]

In 2007, Ferriter wrote the critically acclaimed biography, Judging Dev. This was an insight into one of Ireland's most influential leaders, Éamon de Valera. It won in three categories of the 2008 Irish Book Awards an achievement that remains unmatched.[4] He was Burns Scholar at Boston College from 2008 to 2009.

In 2004, his book The Transformation of Ireland 1900–2000, at 900 pages and containing many new perspectives on modern Irish history, was considered a landmark publication. His book Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland (2009), considered the definitive history of sexuality in twentieth century Ireland, was met with widespread praise from reviewers at home and abroad.[clarification needed]

In June 2010, he presented a three-part television series The Limits of Liberty, about how the senior politicians of the Irish Republic and Irish Free State were more concerned about holding on to power than changing policy for the benefit of the people.[5]

He has collaborated closely with Emmy award winning producer Nuala O'Connor; their 2018 film Keepers of the Flame deals with the legacy of the Irish revolutionary period of the early twentieth century.

Ferriter's book, Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s, published in November 2012, considers the widespread social, cultural, economic and political upheavals of the decade, a time when the Northern Irish Troubles profoundly affected the governance of the Republic, when Ireland joined the EEC, when for the first time a majority of the population lived in urban areas, and when economic challenges abounded. The 1970s in Ireland also witnessed an increasingly visible feminist movement, and the political and legal establishments and other powerful institutions including the Church began to be subjected to a new criticism.

In 2013, in response to the release of tape recordings from Anglo Irish Bank, Ferriter discussed his thoughts on what future historians would ask about contemporary Ireland, questions such as "Was there nothing that would bring the Irish to the barricades during the financial meltdown? Why did a country that fought a war of independence in the early 20th Century become so compliant and docile in the face of the exposure of systemic corruption and the destruction of that independence nearly a century later? And why were those responsible not made accountable and punished?"[6] In 2013, Ferriter played a leading role in the Democracy Matters group that successfully campaigned against the government's proposal to abolish the Irish Senate; the proposal was defeated in a referendum in October 2013.

In 2014 he became a weekly columnist with Ireland's leading quality broadsheet newspaper, The Irish Times.

In 2015, Ferriter published his account of the revolutionary years of the early twentieth century in A Nation and Not a Rabble: The Irish Revolution 1913-1923. Based on new sources and perspectives, it was acclaimed by the Irish Independent as "magisterial", and "Giving Voice to history's silent souls" . (Irish Independent, 14 March 2015)

Ferriter's book The Irish Border: The Legacy of a Century of Anglo-Irish Politics was published in February 2019 to critical acclaim in both the UK and Ireland and became a bestseller. The Times hailed it as " a rare pleasure" suggesting that anyone who wanted to understand why Brexit was proving such an intractable difficulty needed to read this book; the Irish Independent described it as a "deft history of the problem child nobody wants" while it was hailed in the Irish Times as "invaluable".


  • A Nation of Extremes; the pioneers in twentieth-century Ireland. Irish Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-7165-2623-0
  • Mothers, Maidens and Myths: A History of the Irish Countrywomen's Association
  • Cuimhnigh Ar Luimneach: A history of Limerick County Council, 1898–1998.
  • Lovers of Liberty? Local government in twentieth-century Ireland
  • The Irish Famine (co-authored with Colm Tóibín). Profile Books Ltd. ISBN 1-86197-460-4
  • The Transformation of Ireland: 1900–2000. Profile Books Ltd. ISBN 1-58567-681-0
  • What If? Alternative Views of Twentieth-Century Ireland. Gill & Macmillan. ISBN 0-7171-3990-5
  • Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon de Valera. Royal Irish Academy Oct 2007. ISBN 1-904890-28-8
  • Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland, Profile Books Ltd, September 2009
  • Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s. Profile Books Ltd, November 2012. ISBN 978-1-84668-468-5.
  • "A Nation and not a Rabble: The Irish Revolution 1913-23". Profile Books Ltd, March 2015. ISBN 978-1781250419
  • The Border: The Legacy of a Century of Anglo-Irish Politics. Profile Books, Ltd, February 2019 (ISBn 978-1-788161787

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Book of the Month 1974. Clare County Library. Accessed online 19 February 2007
  2. ^ Professor Diarmaid Ferriter Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Royal Society for the Arts. Accessed online 16 February 2007
  3. ^ Official homepage of What If on RTÉ.ie Archived 20 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine His 2004 book The Transformation of Ireland 1900–2000, at 900 pages and containing many new perspectives on modern Irish history was considered a landmark publication. Accessed online 21 February 2007
  4. ^ Holden, Louise (16 September 2008). "Judging His 2009 book Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in modern Ireland, is considered the definitive history of Irish sexuality in the twentieth century and was described by the Sunday Times as a "rigorous, empirical and layered examination of a topic that befuddled Irish people for most of the last century" Diarmaid". The Irish Times. p. 16. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  5. ^ The limits of liberty page (and see also Families in the Oireachtas)
  6. ^ Ferriter, Diarmaid (1 July 2013). "Diarmaid Ferriter: History will ask how we could be so docile in face of such betrayal". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 1 July 2013.

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